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Thread: Hannibal Barca

  1. #1 Hannibal Barca 
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    By far he was one of the most brilliant military leaders in the history of mankind.

    Let's hear your thoughts on the subject.


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    Einstein was Brilliant.
    Hannibal Barca like all military leaders was a blood-thirsty butcher.


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    Forum Professor Pendragon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by billco
    Einstein was Brilliant.
    Hannibal Barca like all military leaders was a blood-thirsty butcher.
    Well maybe Hannibal was good at his job :wink:

    I remember reading a book about Hannibal years ago, but it didn't really show what it was that made him so succesfull. His use of elephants may have helped him a bit, but only in the early campaigns as all but one of the elephants died in crossing the Alps. And crossing the Alps itself was quite daring. But for the rest he may just have been lucky, attacking Rome at the right time.

    This in contrast with Alexander, who did use innovative tactics against a superior enemy.
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    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by billco
    Einstein was Brilliant.
    Hannibal Barca like all military leaders was a blood-thirsty butcher.
    I just want to be clear on this point. You would categorise Field Marshall Montgomery, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Field Marshall Erwin Rommel, General Colin Powell, and General Charles de Gaulle as blood thirsty butchers?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    Quote Originally Posted by billco
    Einstein was Brilliant.
    Hannibal Barca like all military leaders was a blood-thirsty butcher.
    I just want to be clear on this point. You would categorise Field Marshall Montgomery, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Field Marshall Erwin Rommel, General Colin Powell, and General Charles de Gaulle as blood thirsty butchers?
    It kinda helps in a war, don't you think?
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  7. #6  
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    the way I see it (and im not a historian, but Carthage is one of my favourite reading points whenever I look at history)

    Hannibal was a great and invigorating personallity, charismatic they call it. He had some political restraints on his Italy campain and due to the increasing strain on the Carthegenian naval holdings, had a tough time recieving reinforcements. His charasmatic approach however bought him a number of allies such as Gauls and Samnites which bolstered his ranks. His catchphrase tactic was the flank, especially with the powerfull cavalry at his disposal, which was far superior to the Roman horse in all battles he fought except zama (where the Numidians shifted alliance to the Roman side bolstering heavily the Roman cavalry alae)

    Perhaps his most startling stroke of genius was Cannae, where, denied manouvering room for the cavalry - and thus flanking possibilities, he set up a constantly shape-changing deployment which went from being a wedge to a containing flanking manouver. The pre-planning which went into such a manouver was so ingenious that the Enemy took note of it and wrote detailed records of it.

    Was he the greatest of all time? I don't think he bests Alexander for either tactical originality, bravity or vision. Alexander's "unified Greece/Asia/Far East" vision was nothing short of daring, his attempt to create a series of allied kingdoms from the Greek Peninsular to India and beyond may have failed, but it was visionary and daring even by today's standards. His (admittedly enforced) interbreeding schemes were progressive in their day, even if they could be considered racist and archaic for now... however it was a step toward less discrimination compared to the system preceeding it.

    By Comparison, Hannibal's goal was certainly less visionary and extensive, He was pursuing a simple war with Rome, taking the fight to the enemy. It cannot certainly be considered lacking in dare, it is a brave tactic to hit the heart of a nation as a defence against something which was happening far away in another country (spain), and it did pay off for a time, however due to whatever reasons, weather it was due to his failure to rally for a siege of Rome itself (which wasn't really an option due to the supply issue - his army had to move from place to place to effectivley procure it's own supplies from the land it stood on) or what ever, Rome finally neutralized his force and made it supervlous. The Carthagenian Senate's inability to supply reinforcements and the navy's inability to secure a resupply route left Hannibals Italian expidition army shifting in the breeze, unable to hold ground or destroy Rome. Hannibal was effectivley one of histories best generals of the Defending position. His imaginative tactics seemed best when he was pursued and attacked. His defensive stratergies were innovative, using terrain, movement, ambush and flanking in a highly dynamic way comparitavley to previous tactics. The great majority of his victories stemmed from his ability to enduce an enemy to attack him on his terms, while making it seem to the enemy as if they were attacking on their terms. He is the genious of the moving defence. At Zama he was ordered by the Carthagenian Politicians to relieve the siege quickly, forcing him into an attack - leading to his first major - and most crushing defeat at the hands of Scipio Africanus, whos roman soldiers were bolstered by the Numidian cavalry, turning the cavalry superiority in favour to Rome for the first time in the punic wars.
    Scipio's ingenious methods of neutralizing the elephant threat were also succesfull, also contributing to the Carthagenian failure and subsequent surrender.

    Alexander by contrast was an attacking general. The great majority of his battles are characterized by the macedon-greco line advancing up into often much larger opponent forces in an aggressive stance. Alexander was also a great charasmatic leader, almost bathing in a warrior-style glory of the rank and file soldier. Perhaps a different spirituality and culture was the main difference, certainly a warrior king without any congressional restraints from a republican senate system has much more freedom to get what he wants from his native and subjegate nations. Lets not forget that Alexander had a much abridged political process than Hannibal to procure reinforcements, but at the same time faced greater challenges due to distance from his capital, both the Macedonian capital and his later Babalonyan capital in the subjegated Iraq region.

    So for me, I'd put Alexander up as best, and most daring general, winning over Hannibal on a number of fronts:
    - Mission Goals Intended were larger
    - More Mission Goals were Achieved
    - More Visionary and Daring with his Politics
    - More Succesfull in his politics
    - More Agressive tactics during invasion
    - builder of stronger alliances (which admittedly broke down after his death, but that speaks volumes to the charisma of Alexander)
    - More Charisma and internal-army popularity

    However both men did extremely well toward their mission goals given the different constraints. The Politics of the Carthegenian Senate hampered Hannibal far more than any similar system could ever have hurt Alexander who was a King and not a subordinate general under a political system's whim. Hannibal had much success in Italy and it was only when forced out of his game and into a weak position did he falter. His best tactics were defensive, and it is ironic that in an offensive campain in Italy that the majority of the battles saw Hannibal as the defender, and yet when in defence of his homeland he was forced into an attacking posture.
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